Todd C. Kohlhepp, of Spartanburg County, received seven consecutive life prison terms plus an additional 60 years behind bars Friday after he admitted to killing seven people and sexually assaulting a woman that he held captive in a storage container.
Kohlhepp, 46, pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder, four counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, two counts of kidnapping and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Kohlhepp waived his right to appeal the guilty pleas and the convictions in state or federal courts as part of the plea agreement as well as any other post-conviction matters. He also agreed that he will never seek parole or accept parole if it is offered to him.
If Kohlhepp escapes from the state Department of Corrections or violates any other aspect of the plea agreement, the State retains the right to re-sentence the defendant on all of the charges and seek the death penalty.
Solicitor Barry Barnette defined the terms of the agreement in a 9-page written contract that included the signatures of Kohlhepp, his attorneys, Barnette, the surviving victim, representatives of the seven deceased victims, Sheriff Chuck Wright and an attorney from the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Kohlhepp was arrested Nov. 3, 2016 after Spartanburg County sheriff’s deputies went to the defendant’s Woodruff-area property looking for Kala Brown and Charlie Carver, a couple reported missing from Anderson County since August. Deputies found Brown being held against her will in a metal storage container.
Brown told investigators she watched Kohlhepp shoot her boyfriend, Charlie Carver, 32, to death. Carver’s body was found in a shallow grave on the property. Kohlhepp then led investigators to the graves of Meagan Coxie, 25, and Johnny Coxie, 29.
While in custody, Kohlhepp confessed to the 2003 slayings of Scott Ponder, 30, Brian Lucas, 29, Chris Sherbert, 26, and Beverly Guy, 52, at the Superbike shop near Chesnee.
“Todd Kohlhepp deserves the death penalty but the reality of the situation is that our state doesn’t have a functioning death penalty,” Barnette said. “The last execution occurred in 2011 and the state’s supply of lethal injection drugs expired shortly thereafter.
“The victim’s families as well as Kala Brown wanted closure instead of the uncertainty of a death sentence,” Barnette said.